Arizona's 5 Cs


+ click on images to enlarge


There was a time when every Arizonan learned the 5 Cs in elementary school. Now, most Arizonans of any age can't name all five despite their importance to Arizona's heritage. Copper, Cattle, Cotton, Citrus and Climate are the past, present and future forces driving Arizona economy.


Narrator: There was a time when every Arizonan learned the 5 Cs in elementary school. Now most Arizonans of any age can't name all five despite their importance to Arizona's heritage: Cattle, Copper, Citrus, Cotton and Climate.

Marshall Trimble: It's really funny about naming the 5 Cs, because they're pretty obvious to a native Arizonan, I think, who's been here for a long time. They're all represented on the state seal. These were the economic forces that really drove the economy historically in Arizona. And it was true right up until about 50 years ago.

Narrator: Some would argue that the settlement of modern Arizona all started with mining.

Marshall Trimble: If you think about it, a prospector's pick turns over rich ore; the next thing you know, you've got a town. In the 1850s, they found gold, and in the 1860s they found more gold, and after that people began to pour in here.

Narrator: Gold and silver may have started the boom, but it was copper that put Arizona on the map. The first major operation began in Clifton-Morenci in 1872.

Marshall Trimble: Well, towns sprung up, and these towns became the biggest towns in Arizona: Bisbee, Jerome, Clifton, Globe, Miami. These were big, big-time copper towns.

Narrator: Industry practices evolved over time as methods of extracting and processing modernized. What hasn't changed is the multi-billion-dollar financial impact this "C" makes in the Copper State's economy. Since 1910, Arizona has been the copper capital of America, producing more copper than all other 49 states combined.

Narrator: Copper lay beneath the Arizona soil awaiting discovery, but cattle arrived in the state one hoof at a time. Father Kino herded cattle into the Santa Cruz Valley, now southern Arizona, for the O'odom. And Spaniards established the first Hispanic ranches in the area in the 1600s.

Marshall Trimble: Another thing that really contributed to the cattle industry and the Arizona economy was during the Apache Wars when twenty percent of the United States Army was stationed in Arizona. So the cattle industry really thrived on providing cattle not only for the military posts and the mining towns but for the reservations.

Narrator: Open-range cattle grazing appeared in northern Arizona after the completion of the Santa Fe Railroad. Gradually, ranchers across the state fenced in the open range or transitioned to large feeder lots. Despite the sale of large tracts of ranch land to developers, beef remains the state's leading agricultural product. Arizona produces enough beef annually to feed over 4.6 million Americans. And the state's dairy industry produces over 3 billion pounds of milk a year.

Narrator: Cotton-growing in Arizona may be as old as the seeds and cloth found in the ruins of prehistoric settlements. Egyptian cotton was introduced into the Valley in 1900. Yuma cotton became the first commercial cotton grown in Arizona a decade later. During World War I, an embargo was placed on Egypt, the main supplier of industrial-strength cotton, which was needed for airplane wings, tires, and dirigibles. Arizona's Pima cotton filled the bill. The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company pioneered the conversion of desert to irrigated farmland. By 1920, there were almost 230,000 acres of cotton in the state. And in 1953, the state reached an all-time high of 690,000 acres.

Marshall Trimble: There was a time in World War I when you could buy a lot -- a farm in Scottsdale and you could pay off your mortgage with the first crop.

Narrator: When military contracts ended, the farmers suffered tremendous losses. Regardless, the cotton industry maintained its "King Cotton" moniker. Today, Arizona is third in the nation in producing Pima cotton and in the top ten in producing upland cotton and cottonseed. However, like cattle, many of Arizona’s fields have gone from cottony white to tile red, a byproduct of the state's population growth.

Narrator: Citrus came to Arizona from around the world. Initially, explorers brought lemons and oranges to the new world from China. Arizona's climate, with low frost, minimal high winds, and endless sunshine, was a natural greenhouse for high-quality citrus production.

Marshall Trimble: The history of citrus here in Arizona really begins in the Salt River Valley in the 1870s. They had begun to dig out those canals, and they finished a canal in the 1880s called the Arizona Canal, and it runs right through the heart of the Valley today. And everything south of the canal became irrigable. And everything north of the canal was figured to be worthless desert land because water didn't flow uphill.

Narrator: The first Arizona grove was planted in Ingleside, near Phoenix, by W.J. Murphy in 1889, followed by plantings in Yuma and Mesa. Due to early distribution challenges, the industry did not take hold until 1928, when establishing the Arizona Citrus Growers Association eliminated many costly transportation problems. By 1935, there were 21,000 citrus acres. In 1995, 33,000 acres. Today, Arizona is second in the nation in production of lemons, third in the nation in tangerines, and in the top ten in oranges and grapefruit.

Narrator: Arizona's citrus industry isn't the only "C" that relies on the sun. As early as the 1880s, visitors discovered the therapeutic benefits of Arizona's climate. From outdoor enthusiasts to wannabe Cowboys, Arizona had something for everyone. Some resorts started out for health seekers. Others emerged as the playground of the affluent. Arizona's natural beauty was another attraction. The Grand Canyon was designated as a national park in 1919 through legislation sponsored by then-U.S. Representative Carl Hayden. Easterners flocked west for fun in the sun, for a taste of the Wild West at dude ranches, and to view exotic Native-American ruins and cultures. After World War II, many soldiers who trained in Arizona returned, and air conditioning made living in Arizona more desirable.

Marshall Trimble: Climate makes all of those other things happen. The diverse land, well, that's climate. The attraction of tourists, that's climate. The weather is climate. So climate is a broad umbrella to cover a lot of things that affect us all.

Narrator: copper, cattle, cotton, citrus, and climate: Arizona's 5 Cs connect the state's past and present with its future.

Marshall Trimble: These things on our seal represent our heritage.